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Olympian Ohno on track with ‘smart pills’ from Richmond

Speed skater Apolo Ohno joins Richmond-based natural supplement firm
Apolo Ohno
Short track speed skating legend Apolo Ohno hung up his skates after the 2010 Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver. Now, he is heading up a Richmond-based manufacturer of supplements designed to provide a boost for your brain. Photo submitted

As a Winter Olympic Games legend with eight medals to his name, Apolo Ohno certainly subscribed to the games’ Latin motto “Citius, Altius, Fortius” - which translates in English to “Swifter, Higher, Stronger.”

Now, six years after concluding his Olympic short track speed skating career at the 2010 games Vancouver, his involvement with a Richmond-headquartered, natural supplement manufacturing company could easily alter his Olympic mantra to “Clearer, sharper, quicker.”

Ohno is co-founder of Allysian Sciences which has developed an array of supplements designed to, among other things, help relieve stress, increase mental acuity, and improve reaction times.

Ohno was in Richmond last weekend to talk about the products which are sold worldwide and the News caught up with him by telephone in Los Angeles this week.

He said that throughout his athletic career he was always been in search of the best nutritional products to give him an edge over competitors. And since he traded the athletic arena for one focused on business Ohno said he was keen to find products that helped him, among other aspects, improve his memory.

“I also wanted a boost in energy outside of the sporting arena,” Ohno said, adding he has worked with researchers for the past 12 years to identify a group of natural ingredients that had the desired effect.

Six years ago, when he met up with Vancouver-based software developer and network marketer, Rod Jao, the two clicked and started the company, with Jao as CEO. The goal was to further refine what Ohno had been developing and produce it for widespread consumer consumption.

The result has been a suite of botanically-based products, and the one at the forefront is what Allysian calls Mastermind.

“I think it’s something that we all need in this ever-changing, fast-paced, technologically driven world,” said Ohno. “I was never contracted to be a spokesperson for this company. It is something I believe in. I believe in the products because they were formulated for myself. I also believe in what human performance can achieve.”

“We wanted to create a company that could enhance peoples’ lives around the world and believe all of that starts with the mind. So, we worked on the project and came up with products that maximize human potential,” Jao added.

The result is a range of supplements that Jao thought would have appeal to a wider audience outside the elite athlete circle Ohno associated with. And that means potentially big business. According to an Ipsos-Reid report in 2010 nutritional supplement sales represented $1.4 billion in Canada.

In the U.S., according to Statista, a web-based statistics portal, sales in 2016 are pegged at reaching $35 billion. And that is expected to jump another billion next year as more people go in search of health solutions that are not drug-centred.

Globally, according to the Nutrition Business Journal report, the global nutrition and supplements market stood at (US) $96 billion in 2012. A year later, it was approximately (US) $104 billion.

So, there appears to be room for supplements to hit the store shelves with “smart pills” that fall into the category of nootropics, a broad category of cognitive-enhancing supplements that include a range of compounds to improve memory, focus and mood.

And that has attracted users in a wide variety of consumer groups, from aging baby boomers trying to stave off the effects of memory loss, and young students in high school and post-secondary environments looking to maximize test results, to young entrepreneurs and established corporate types keen to get an edge on their competition.

Whatever the focus, Ohno and Jao said they are confident buyers are out there looking for something like their product.

“People are hungry for knowledge, hungry for direction and hungry for independence,” Ohno said, adding he claims the formulation helped him deal with stress and fatigue during his time in competitive sport.

“For me, personally, the thing that I’ve noticed is the fluidity of my conversations is better and my ability to recall large amounts of information is better — sometimes, you can stumble across that and get brain fog,” he said. “Plus, it’s given me an overwhelming sense of desire that is not driven by an energy drink or caffeine but a more steady and consistent flow of energy that has given me the confidence the challenges or obstacles I am facing I can tackle head on.”

The process to bring Mastermind to market has taken two years. Sales started last March.

Right now, Mastermind is produced in Vancouver, is available online and is shipped to 14 countries around the globe.